But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, 3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?
5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.
When I used to work in the seed corn fields of the Midwest, I spent my summers working in a company operated by one of my profs at Concordia, Seward. Many of my fellow detasselers were associated with the college. One of them was an Ethiopian refugee named Solomon. At first Solomon was always one of the last people to exit his row. His English was not terribly good and our Ethiopian language skills were non-existent, so we struggled a bit with communication. But finally, we got across to him that this was a profit-sharing enterprise. We were essentially dividing up the contract’s amount between us. The more acres we did, the more we got paid.
Once he figured that out, Solomon became a detasseling machine. As the company grew, he became a crew leader. It was both an honor and a curse to be selected for his crew. He only took the best people, but he worked very long and hard days. You made great money with Solomon, but you were very glad when the season was over.
Paul addresses a non-functioning congregation in Corinth. It is riven by conflict, issues of morality, doctrinal divisions, worship wars, and so much more. In this passage, Paul is trying to get them all on the same page. Like Solomon in his early manifestation as a worker, they are asking all the wrong questions of themselves and the church. Solomon was trying to maximize his time so he would make more money, not realizing that in this system, effort was compensated. Paul is trying to get them to see that this is not about what side the other person is on, how this benefits me, etc. This was and always is about Jesus, His kingdom, and his ministry.
That reality continues to allow people of very diverse ideas and personalities to be joyfully serving side by side. When it ceases to be about me, everything changes. My goals, my feelings, even my own life might not be so important anymore. Only Jesus is important now. That was certainly the case for Paul. Read Philippians 1 and 2 where he speaks of His joy that Christ is proclaimed even though he is on trial and may soon be executed. He invites you and me into that sort of focused life today.